Lakecaster Online Archives – January, 1999
White Bass Corner
By John Plumb
For those who wait
There are those of us who await the arrival of the white bass “run.” The run is as follows: first, white bass have one job: eat, swim, and make baby fish, a three phased one step job. Spring for the white bass is now. Spring, to the fish, is quite different from what you and I know as such. Spring to the fish is when the water temperature is correct. In the case of the white bass, it’s 55 degrees F. When the lake average temperature hits this mark, the white bass’ biological clock goes off.
RRRRUUUUUUNNNNIIIIIIIIIINNNGGG! Time to make babies.
Truth is, the “run” is not the prime time for white bass chasin’ proper. The run consists of a two month period that culminates with the return of the fish to the lake in April. Us locals define the “reliable times,” as mid-May. It could be either way, early or late. Three weeks is the max, either way. Those who find the whites spawning up local creeks miss out on the most fun aspect of this worthy game fish. Truly the white bass is everyone’s Lake Livingston fish.”
The run is defined as such. When the proper water temperature is reached, the fish begin their migration upstream to spawn, much like the salmon, but instead of dying, they return to the lake to roam at will, feed on shad, and be the subject or our quest. Indeed a quest of proportion only rivaled by greater quarry. In this lake, the white bass reigns as “premier.”
As the run begins, the fish move up into the headwaters of the creeks and main river channel associated with the system. In general, we are talking about above the lake. Some activity is recorded below the dam, but not to compare with the latter. Basically, what the fish seek is the cleanliest available water that is flowing. This could mean that you could be fishing in a person’s cow pasture, or in low water conditions, the river bed itself.
During the months mentioned, much success is possible, if you are boat-wise, and wise to the environment. The method is simple. It highly resembles the methods one would use for chasing black bass in a “strolling” situation. Find the area fish are holding, and fish it. Real easy.
Looking in the right places? Look in slow and slack water, in the bottom of any eddy, or on any really sandy bank. It’s fishing and on any day, I have the same process. Sometimes nothing works, when it works, it works to remember. Tactics will change with water condition. Now, the river is high and slightly muddy. If that remains the case, the creeks will be the ticket.
No amount of advise is going to prepare you for this adventure. Basically, you’ll be plowing around in the tops of trees that were 20 feet above normal level. It can get interesting. The reason for his madness is obvious if you find the fish. The terrain looks much the same up there, so take some engineer flagging tape to mark your way in, and return to the ramp.
Which creek is anyone’s guess now. Keep informed by reading Lakecaster, and watch the Chronicle fishing report. Once the fish move, it will be known and reported. Count on that, there are many possibilities for creek fishing. I would try all within your range.
Basic requirement for the creek to be pro-ductive is to have flow. No flow, no go. Instinct drives the critters on a seemingly impossible task. Some of the large fish make a 100 mile, or more trip to lay their eggs. The more flow, the farther they will go to seek out the cleanliest water available. Regard “clean” as a relative term. A slight difference could be the difference.
You’ll not find a lot of pretty water.
What you will find is a wilderness adventure. Much wildlife will be your only company. Fishing in this hostile environment can be a challenge. Most anything you present to the fish in the way of a jig or crankbait should work. Small rattletraps have been known to work when nothing else would. Take 8 -10 with you in gold/black back/blue back, etc. Retrieve will be slow and deep as possible.
There you have it. It’s time to start looking around for launch points. The choices are extensive so take some time and investigate your points of interest. See you up there.
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